Forecasters Warn That "Godzilla El Nino" Could Hit U.S. - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

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Forecasters Warn That "Godzilla El Nino" Could Hit U.S.

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These 1997 and 2015 El Niño animations were made from data collected by the TOPEX/Poseidon (1997) and the OSTM/Jason-2 (2015) satellites. NASA These 1997 and 2015 El Niño animations were made from data collected by the TOPEX/Poseidon (1997) and the OSTM/Jason-2 (2015) satellites. NASA

Forecasters are warning the West Coast could be hit by what may possibly be the strongest El Niño season on record later this year.

Forecasters with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center told reporters Thursday warming ocean waters nearing North and South America could bring some much-needed rain - along with some other potentially hairy weather - to the region in what one climatologist described as a "Godzilla El Niño".

An El Niño - meaning in Spanish "the little boy, or Christ child" - is created when the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean warm significantly.

Expected to peak in the late fall or early winter, the annual weather phenomenon may yield more frequent and intense storms than in past seasons, along with an increase in tropical cyclones in the Pacific and heavy rainfall and snowfall.

In July, UC Irvine hydrologist Amir Aghakouchaktold CBS Los Angeles that the predicted El Niño rains could result in excessive stress on levies, roads and hillsides that have started to dry and crack in California's historic drought.

"We cannot stop them, but we can try to be more and more prepared," Aghakouchak said. "Natural hill slopes are becoming more and more vulnerable."

But despite the predictions, NOAA scientists say even if the West Coast sees above normal rain and snow this winter, the amount of precipitation won't be enough to erase four years of record-breaking drought conditions for California.

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